On September 9, the new feature film Contagion from Warner Bros. Pictures, Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi will be released in theaters nationwide. The picture sports an all-star cast and revolves around a rapidly spreading virus that threatens to infect millions of people.
Of course it’s a fictional movie, but that’s not to say it’s completely fake. The film’s depiction of how public health workers track the deadly outbreak shows them using a technology similar to HealthMap, a real-life online surveillance system designed to track emerging infectious disease threats. Co-founded by John Brownstein, PhD and Clark Freifeld of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Informatics Program, HealthMap has over a million users a year including regular users from the World Health Organization, the CDC and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Full story »
Come on, folks, roll up your sleeves—and your kids’ sleeves, too. Summer’s officially over and it’s time for the flu shot.
Every year, I’m caught off guard by how many people don’t want to get a flu shot. There are lots of people who are happy to get them—anxious, even—but I’m always surprised by how much I end up being a flu shot salesman. Full story »
Last fall, a group of leading thinkers and entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors gathered to discuss an idea that originated with Harvard’s Isaac Kohane and Ken Mandl — the development of an “iPhone-like platform” for health information technology (HIT), a more open and flexible approach than the architecture currently being contemplated, and one that holds greater promise for creating a consumer-oriented “Health Internet.” Obama Administration officials pledged at the meeting to have a pilot effort launched that could have real-time patient data accessible online this year.
The Children’s Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP) has been instrumental in connecting the public with health care issues through technology. CHIP created HealthMap, a website, blog and an iPhone app that tracks disease outbreaks in real-time. We featured their weekly H1N1 tracking updates over the last several months here on Thrive.
In case you missed it, Margaret Chan, MD, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), yesterday cautioned the world that the H1N1 pandemic is not over, even though you’re not hearing as much about it in the media or around the watercooler. “It is too premature and too early for us to say we have come to an end of the pandemic influenza worldwide,” Dr. Chan said at a press conference.
With much less attention being paid to H1N1 these days, Thrive asked Claire McCarthy, MD, a pediatrician and the medical director of Children’s Martha Eliot Health Center, if she thought families could stop worrying about the virus—and whether people should still get vaccinated if they haven’t already. Here’s what she had to say: Full story »
From swine flu to obesity to dangerous plastics, many issues that affect children’s health garnered media attention in the year 2009. Here’s a rundown of the some of the biggest and most important stories:
This is the story that caught the most attention—for good reason. Not only is the H1N1 influenza virus very contagious, it appears to particularly affect young people. H1N1 caused more pediatric hospitalizations and deaths than we usually see with the seasonal influenza virus, which is very scary for parents (and pediatricians!). The virus led to countless school closings—sometimes to control the spread, and sometimes because there weren’t enough teachers left to teach! Full story »
In case you missed it, the CDC today recalled 800,000 H1N1 vaccine doses meant for children, age 6 months to nearly 3 years old because they lost some of their strength after being released to the public. The good news is that there are no risks to any child who was vaccinated and you don’t need to get your child re-vaccinated if he or she got doses from the recalled batch; it just may be that your child isn’t quite as protected from H1N1 as you originally thought.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that “Disease activity has peaked and is declining in North America and has either recently peaked or is currently peaking in much of western and northern Europe.” In other good news, WHO also reports no signs of widespread resistance to Tamiflu. Full story »